Nano-indentation at the surface contact level: Applying a harmonic frequency for measuring contact stiffness of self-assembled monolayers adsorbed on Au

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Abstract

In this study, the well-ordered alkanethiolate self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of varied chain lengths and tail groups were employed as examples for nano-characterization on their mechanical properties. A novel nano-indentation technique with a constant harmonic frequency was applied on SAMs chemically adsorbed on Au to explore their contact mechanics, and furthermore to interpret how SAM molecules respond to an infinitesimal oscillation force without pressing them. Experimental results demonstrated that the harmonic contact stiffness along with the measured displacement of SAMs/Au was distinguishable using a dynamic contact modulus with the distinct feature of phase angles. Phase angles resulted from the relaxing continuation of an applied harmonic frequency and mostly influenced by the outermost tail group of SAM molecules. The harmonic contact stiffness of SAM molecules obviously increased with the densely packed alkyl chains and relatively intense agglomeration of the head group at the anchoring site. As a consequence, the result of this work is relevant to contact mechanics at the surface contact level for the distinction of molecular substances attached on a solid surface. Furthermore it is particularly anticipated to identify biological molecules of variable qualities under a fluid-like micro-environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number315703
JournalNanotechnology
Volume19
Issue number31
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Aug 6

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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